Ben Franklin Technology Partners Joins ic@3401 and Drexel to Boost Startup Resources in University City

innovation center

Drexel and Ben Franklin Technology Partners are establishing a $10 million seed fund for entrepreneurs and startups with ties to the University. In addition Ben Franklin and Safeguard Scientifics are partnering with the Innovation Center @3401.

A number of developments in University City’s startup ecosystem are aligning—all to the benefit of Philadelphia’s burgeoning community of entrepreneurs. Drexel University and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania are teaming up to create a $10 million early stage seed fund that will support spin-off companies from the University. Concurrent with the launch of the new fund, Ben Franklin will join Drexel and University City Science Center’s efforts to strengthen the offerings for members at the Innovation Center @3401 (ic@3401). And the technology and healthcare growth capital provider, Safeguard Scientifics, is also joining ic@3401 in a high-level capacity.

"Ben Franklin has a strong track record of seeding and growing successful companies,” said Ben Franklin President and CEO, RoseAnn B. Rosenthal. “Linking our capabilities with Drexel and the ic@3401 community gives entrepreneurs fantastic new opportunities to leverage each organization’s unique assets, while strengthening the region's robust engine for innovation."

In addition to the fund and establishment of a physical presence at ic@3401’s collaborative workspace on Market Street, Ben Franklin will offer member companies a variety of services and support including industry consulting, market analysis and access to capital.

“Together the Science Center and Drexel have built a strong foundation for startups at ic@3401,” says Science Center President & CEO, Stephen S. Tang, Ph.D., MBA. “Adding Ben Franklin to the partnership and Safeguard Scientifics as a sustaining member strengthens the ecosystem that is in place at ic@3401 and allows us to draw on our collective assets and expertise to attract and support a critical mass of high-growth startups and a diverse set of members.”

For the Drexel Ventures Ben Franklin Seed Fund, Ben Franklin is committing to match a $5 million investment by Drexel over the next 10 years to create a $10 million fund that will be tapped to invest in qualified enterprises from Drexel. The fund will initially invest in Drexel spin-off companies that have licensed technologies from the University and have already taken advantage of Drexel's extensive commercialization programs. Its candidate pool will eventually be expanded to include startups founded by alumni and students. The fund will be administered by representatives from Ben Franklin and Drexel Ventures, the University’s enterprise for supporting translational research, discovery and innovation.

“Innovation is in our DNA at Drexel. We are ranked among the top 50 academic institutions worldwide in the number of patents that have been granted to our enterprising faculty,” said Drexel President John A. Fry. “Through Drexel Ventures, our university’s accelerator program, we are now able to provide our academic innovators with new resources to expand research and commercialization efforts by creating programs like this one with Ben Franklin Technology Partners. Teaming with a visionary organization like Ben Franklin, a group with a proven track record of fueling Philadelphia’s innovation economy, will not only empower our entrepreneurs, but also attract others to University City and serve as a model for the type of partnerships that will form the foundation of the Innovation Neighborhood.”

Further supporting the growth of ic@3401, and making a case for University City as an epicenter for technology startups, is the addition of Safeguard Scientifics, a Radnor-based private equity and venture capital firm that supports health care and technology companies.

Safeguard Scientifics joins ic@3401 as its first “Sustaining Member,” which means that the company will play a prominent role in the center’s ecosystem, including helping to recruit and mentor member companies and to bring in new industry collaborators. 

Safeguard has a distinguished track record of fostering innovation and building market leaders. For more than 60 years, Safeguard has been providing growth capital and operational support to entrepreneurs across an evolving spectrum of industries. Today, Safeguard is focused specifically on two high-growth, highly innovative sectors—technology and healthcare. Safeguard’s affiliation with ic@3401 serves to provide critical resources and perspectives to the growing and evolving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Philadelphia, as well as help ic@3401 attract future high-impactful supporters.  

”At Safeguard, we are on a mission to make the Greater Philadelphia region a go-to destination for people to start and grow their business,” said Safeguard President and CEO, Steve Zarilli. “Safeguard has a long history of being a catalyst for creativity and entrepreneurship, driving substantial growth and opportunities. We continue to be drawn to generating and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs.  We are thrilled to be a part of this initial collaborate which includes three great institutions—Drexel University, the University City Science Center, and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania—all of which are collectively dedicated to building a world-class entrepreneurial community in the Greater Philadelphia region.”